David Blankenhorn
Key Player

President, Institute for American ValuesDavid Blankenhorn is founding president of the Institute for American Values (IAV). Author of the 1995 book Fatherless in America, Blankenhorn has been described by USA TODAY as “a pioneer in the fatherhood movement.”

Blankenhorn grew up with two parents and a younger brother in Jackson, Mississippi, in a household that emphasized family and church. After graduating from Harvard University in 1977, he worked as a community volunteer in the Boston area rallying low-income residents against high utility rates.

A self-described “marriage nut,” Blankenhorn argues that children need both a mother and a father. “We’re either going to go in the direction of viewing marriage as a purely private relationship between two people that’s defined by those people, or we’re going to strengthen and maintain marriage as our society’s most pro-child institution,” he told USA TODAY in 2007.

Blankenhorn is opposed to same-sex marriage because he believes that, like households headed by single heterosexuals, such relationships are bad for children. Unlike other opponents of same-sex marriage, Blankenhorn does not condemn sexual activity that falls outside the bounds of heterosexual marriage.

Nevertheless, Blankenhorn maintains that same-sex marriage represents an assault on the institution of marriage. For decades, heterosexuals have been “doing a fine job” undermining marriage, he says, with no-fault divorce, unwed childbearing and cohabitation. “Gay marriage is only one facet of the larger threat to the institution.”

Blankenhorn supports the idea of Congress bestowing the status of federal civil unions on same-sex marriages; he also supports the concept of civil unions at the state level. He believes that the federal government, however, should only recognize those unions in states with “robust-conscience exceptions, which provide that religious organizations need not recognize same-sex unions against their will.”